Needing Air To Breathe And Market: NBC And Beijing Olympics Advertisers

Forget about the usual TV advertisers' worries about the Beijing Olympics. Worry more about whether their corporate banners will be seen on TV waving through some serious air pollution.

Scenic TV views of the city will be a major concern -- as well as scenes of athletes trying to compete through the haze. The question is, how much of this will rub off on U.S. and international TV advertisers? Sixteen days is a long time, and though Chinese officials will look to ban everything from cars to factories to give the appearance of clean air, nothing is guaranteed.

ESPN noted in its show "Outside The Lines" that an unprecedented number of triathletes and mountain bikers in separate events held last year in Beijing couldn't even finish their respective events due to very high levels of pollution.

To some, the purity of athleticism went out years ago when it was discovered that many were getting paid as professionals.  Now athletes can't even get purity in the air they breathe while competing.



What does this mean for a TV marketer with a major "green" campaign? It's a tricky situation. The Beijing Olympic committee has been building many "green" buildings amid its overall "green" efforts.

Not only that, but air is clearing, says the Chinese government, noting that Beijing has double the number of "blue sky" days than it did a year ago. Still, U.S.-based environmentalists, according to ESPN, say these results are virtually made up. The air is as bad as ever.

For NBC Universal's part -- the U.S. TV rights-holder of the games -- it's another big adventure, not least of which is getting enough "live" unfiltered, uncensored programming transmitted, and adjusting to whatever political impromptu happenings occur. 

But more importantly -- how will this all gel with the media company's highly-touted "Green is Universal" campaign? Will we see much Olympic media time for this? Spin the answer yourself.

All this leads to an almost-forgotten issue: drugs and the Olympics. Athletes in next month's games should be given a pass for whatever levels of medication they need to compete fairly -- and as protection for their valuable, well-honed athletic breathing machines.

Surely those with asthma will be thinking about their prescriptions. If they aren't, maybe Pfizer could breathe life into this issue with some new inhaler commercials.

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